Find joy and happiness in Christ and serving him, conference listeners told
Saturday afternoon session
“All that we have and all that we are comes from God.” Those are the words of Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as he spoke in the Saturday afternoon session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the face of public criticism and legal challenges against the church concerning tithes and money, Andersen spoke of giving tithes and how they are used.
“As disciples of Christ, we willingly share with those around us. With all the Lord gives to us, He has asked us to return to Him and His kingdom on earth 10% of our increase,” he said. “He has promised us that as we are honest in our tithes, He will ‘open … the windows of heaven, and pour … out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.’ He has promised us that He will protect us from evil. These promises are so certain, the Lord declares, ‘prove me now herewith,’ a phrase found nowhere else in the scriptures.”
Andersen explained to conference listeners that while the outside world views tithing in a monetary framework, in truth it all comes down to faith.
“Being honest in our tithes is one way we show our willingness to put the Lord first in our lives, above our own cares and interest. We trust in the Lord and the blessings of heaven follow,” he said.
According to Andersen, these sacred funds do not belong to the leaders of the church; they belong to the Lord, andis servants are painstakingly aware of the sacred nature of their stewardship.
Brother Jan E. Newman, second counselor of the Sunday School, spoke of the wise man building his house on a rock and that he had to dig deep and put in effort.
“To build our lives on the rock of our redeemer, Jesus Christ, we need to dig deep. We remove anything that is sandy or superfluous in our lives. We keep digging until we find Him,” he said. “And we teach our children to bind themselves to Him through sacred ordinances and covenants, so that when the oppositional storms and floods come, as they surely will, they will have little effect upon them ‘because of the rock upon which (they) are built.'”
Newman noted, “One of our most sacred responsibilities is to help our children come to know deeply and specifically that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God, their personal savior and redeemer, who stands at the head of His church! We cannot allow our covenant voice to become muted or silent when it comes to Him.”
Elder Joaquin E. Costa of the Seventy shared stories of people in Argentina and the hardships they worked through because of their faith and strength.
“What gives them the power to go through hard things? What gives an extra layer of strength to go on when everything seems lost? I have found that the source of that strength is faith in Jesus Christ as we seek to come unto Him each and every day,” he said.
Costa then talked about the number of things individuals and families can do to come closer to Christ every day.
The gift and prompting of the Holy Spirit is important in this day, added Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve.
“The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest spiritual gifts that Latter-day Saints enjoy. How important is this gift? President Russell M. Nelson answered this question categorically when he stated that ‘in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost,'” he said.
Stevenson offered four guiding principles to give assistance to individuals in inviting and recognizing the promptings of the Spirit. They include:
- Stand in holy places.
- Stand with holy people.
- Testify of holy truths.
- Listen to the Holy Spirit.
“Your ability to invite and recognize the promptings of the Spirit will develop a step at a time,” Stevenson said. “Becoming more attuned to the language of the Spirit is like learning another language. It is a gradual process that requires diligent, patient effort.”
Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy taught how to be happy, saying it is by staying on the covenant path.
“My dear brothers and sisters, do you want to be happy? Stay on the covenant path. Your life will be easier, happier and filled with joy. Our savior is inviting us, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ He is the living Christ. He carries our burdens and makes our life easier,” he said.
“When we follow Satan, we give him power. When we follow God, He gives us power,” Choi added.
“I have reflected on the divine identity and importance of God’s children, the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, and the perfect love of a Father in Heaven who knows you and me. I hope to bear witness of these truths today,” said Elder Allan T. Phillips of the Seventy.
“Your life has meaning and purpose. The ongoing restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings light and understanding regarding your divine identity. You are a beloved child of Heavenly Father. You are the subject matter of all those parables and teachings,” Phillips said, referring to a number of Bible stories he shared. “God loves you so much that He sent His Son to heal, rescue, and redeem you.”
“How we treat one another truly matters. President Nelson teaches: ‘The savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade and inspire.’ This is even more important when our fellow travelers feel lost, alone, forgotten or removed,” he noted.
Phillips concluded, “God’s plan of happiness is all about you. You are his precious child and of great worth. He knows and loves you.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband spoke on the gathering of Israel and the need for senior missionaries, teaching that if they serve, they will have great joy.
“I am speaking to the many seasoned seniors in the church who could serve as missionaries. The Lord needs you. We need you in New York and Chicago, Australia and Africa, Thailand and Mexico, and everywhere in between,” he said.
“Mission fields around the world are pleading for your help,” Rasband said. “President Russell M. Nelson has said of our senior missionaries, ‘They are young in spirit, wise and willing to work.'”
He concluded by saying, “As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to serve as a missionary in the gathering of Israel and perhaps serve again. We need you — we need you.”